The Ayodhya dispute (Hindi: अयोध्या विवाद, Urdu: ایودھیا وِواد) is a political, historical and socio-religious debate in India, centred on a plot of land in the city of Ayodhya, located in Faizabad district, Uttar Pradesh. The main issues revolve around access to a site traditionally regarded as the birthplace of the Hindu deity Rama, the history and location of the Babri Mosque at the site, and whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque.
The Babri Mosque was destroyed by hardline Hindu activists during a political rally which turned into a riot on 6 December 1992. A subsequent land title case was lodged in the Allahabad High Court, the verdict of which was pronounced on 30 September 2010. In the landmark hearing, the three judges of The Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2.77 acres (1.12 ha) of Ayodhya land be divided into 3 parts, with 1/3 going to the Ram Lalla or Infant Lord Rama represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha for the construction of the Ram temple, 1/3 going to the Islamic Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining 1/3 going to a Hindu religious denomination Nirmohi Akhara. While the three-judge bench was not unanimous that the disputed structure was constructed after demolition of a temple, it did agree that a temple or a temple structure predated the mosque at the same site. The excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India were heavily used as evidence by the court that the predating structure was a massive Hindu religious building.
Religious background 
At the center of the debate is the status of the land known as Ram Janmabhoomi, on which the original Babri Mosque was built in 1528.
Ram Janmabhoomi 
Ayodhya is the birthplace of the Maryaada Purushottam, i.e., ideal person, Lord Rama, legendary King of Kosala, who is also worshiped by millions as an Avatar of Vishnu. The Skandh Puraan, an over 2000-year-old work of reference for ancient pilgrimage sites in India, narrates in detail the different temples in Ayodhya, including the one commemorating the birthplace of Rama.
|“||Ayodhyā Mathurā Māyā Kāsi Kāñchī Avantikā I
Purī Dvārāvatī chaiva saptaitā moksadāyikāh II
—Garuḍa Purāṇa I XVI .14
A Kṣetra is a sacred ground, a field of active power, a place where Moksha, i.e. final release from cycle of rebirth, can be obtained. The Garuda Purana enumerates seven cities as giver of Moksha, They are Ayodhya, Mathura, Māyā, Kāsi, Kāñchī, Avantikā and Dvārāvatī.
History of the Babri Mosque 
When the Mughal invader Babur came down from Kabul in 1525, he first defeated Ibrahim Lodi at the first battle of Panipat and then the Rajput King of Chittorgarh, Rana Sangram Singh at Khanwa, making pioneering use of cannon and light cavalry. After these triumphs, Babar took over a substantial part of northern India.
One of his generals, Mir Baki Khan came to Ayodhya in 1528 and after reportedly destroying a pre-existing temple of Rama at the site, built the "Janmasthan", i. e., "Birthplace" Mosque. Mir Baki, after building the mosque, named it Babri Masjid. The Babri Mosque was one of the largest mosques in Uttar Pradesh, a state in India with some 31 million Muslims.
Demolition of the Babri Mosque 
By the middle of the 20th century, Hindus in the area were claiming that the mosque had not been used by Muslims since 1936, and according to a court ruling an idol of Rama was placed inside the mosque in the intervening night of 22/23 December 1949. A movement was launched in 1984 by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP party) to reclaim the site for Hindus who want to erect a temple dedicated to the infant Rama (Ramlala) at this spot.
On 6 December 1992, the structure was demolished by karsevaks, 150,000 strong, despite a commitment by the government to the Indian Supreme Court that the mosque would not be harmed. More than 2000 people were killed in the riots following the demolition. Riots broke out in many major Indian cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.
On 16 December 1992, the Liberhan Commission was set up by the Government of India to probe the circumstances that led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque. It was the longest running commission in India's history with several extensions granted by various governments. Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were held culpable by the report. Other senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh and top brass of VHP like Giriraj Kishore and Ashok Singhal were also held culpable. Other prominent political leaders indicted by the commission include late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, former RSS leader K Govindacharya, late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, former BJP leader Uma Bharti and BJP leader Vijayraje Scindia.
Many Muslim organisations have continued to express outrage at the destruction of the disputed structure. In July 2005, Islamic terrorists attacked the makeshift temple at the site of the destroyed mosque. In 2007, M. N. Gopal Das, the then head of the Ram temple, received phone calls making threats against his life. Many terror attacks by banned jehadi outfits like IM cited demolition of Babri Mosque as an excuse for terrorist attacks. name="guardianarchieve"/>
Early historical surveys 
In 1767, Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler recorded Hindus worshiping and celebrating Ramanavami at the site of the mosque. In 1788, Tieffenthaler's French works were published in Paris, the first to suggest that the Babri Mosque was on the birthplace of Rama, saying that "Emperor Aurangzeb got demolished the fortress called Ramkot, and erected on the same place a Mahometan temple with three cuppolas" reclaimed by Hindus through numerous wars after death of Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D like they earlier fortified it during Jahangir's rule as Ramkot.
During the 19th century, the Hindus in Ayodhya were recorded as continuing a tradition of worshiping Rama on the Ramkot hill. According to British sources, Hindus and Muslims from the Faizabad area worshiped together in the Babri Mosque complex in the 19th century until about 1855. P. Carnegy wrote in 1870:
It is said that up to that time, the Hindus and Mohamedans alike used to worship in the mosque-temple. Since the British rule a railing has been put up to prevent dispute, within which, in the mosque the Mohamedans pray, while outside the fence the Hindus have raised a platform on which they make their offerings.—
This platform was outside the disputed structure but within its precincts.
In 1858, the Muazzin of the Babri Mosque said in a petition to the British government that the courtyard had been used by Hindus for hundreds of years.
The British recognized the religious and political tension between the Muslims and Hindus. An early census, taken in 1869, found the Hindu people to comprise 66.4 percent of the total population in Ayodhya, and a little over 60 percent in nearby Faizabad. The British contended that the Ayodhya area was primarily Hindu, not in regards to this census, but to the chief spiritual significance for the birthplace of Rama.
Mahant Ram case 
In 1885, Mahant Raghubar Ram moved the courts for permission to erect a temple just outside the Babri Mosque premises. Despite validating the claim of the petitioner, the Faizabad District Judge dismissed the case, citing the passage of time. On 18 March 1886, the judge passed an order in which he wrote:
I visited the land in dispute yesterday in the presence of all parties. I found that the Masjid built by Emperor Babur stands on the border of Ayodhya, that is to say, to the west and south it is clear of habitations. It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to agree with the grievances. (Court verdict by Col. F.E.A. Chamier, District Judge, Faizabad (1886)
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Several later mosques were built in Faizabad district, in which the pilgrim city of Ayodhya falls. Ayodhya itself has a small Muslim population, though there are substantial numbers of Muslims 7 km away at District Headquarters – Faizabad. Since 1948, by Indian Government order, Muslims were not permitted to be closer than 200 yards away to the site; the main gate remained locked, though Hindu pilgrims were allowed to enter through a side door. The 1989 Allahabad High Court ordered the opening of the main gate and restored the site in full to the Hindus. Hindu groups later requested modifications to the Babri Mosque, and drew up plans for a new grand Temple with Government permissions; riots between Hindu and Muslim groups took place as a result. Since, then the matter is sub-judice and this political, historical and socio-religious debate over the history and location of the Babri Mosque, is known as the Ayodhya dispute.
Before 2003, the standard view that an ancient Ram Janmabhoomi temple was demolished and replaced with the Babri Mosque, was not supported by any archaeological evidence. References such as the 1986 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica reported that "Rama’s birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple".15th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 1986, entry "Ayodhya," Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.
However, archaeological excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1970, 1992 and 2003 in and around the disputed site have clearly found the evidence indicating that a large Hindu complex existed on the site. In 2003, by the order of an Indian Court, The Archaeological Survey of India was asked to conduct a more indepth study and an excavation to ascertain the type of structure that was beneath the rubble indicated definite proof of a temple under the mosque. However, it could not be ascertained if it was a Rama temple as remnant had more resemblance to a Shiva temple. In the words of ASI researchers, they discovered "distinctive features associated with... temples of north India". The excavations yielded:
"stone and decorated bricks as well as mutilated sculpture of a divine couple and carved architectural features, including foliage patterns, amalaka, kapotapali, doorjamb with semi-circular shrine pilaster, broke octagonal shaft of black schist pillar, lotus motif, circular shrine having pranjala (watershute) in the north and 50 pillar bases in association with a huge structure"—
Jonathan Walters remarks: "The impact of the 2003 discovery of Buddhist ruins underlying both Hindu and Muslim layers at Ayodhya remains to be seen." Before the archaeological opinion was published, there were some differing viewpoints. In his Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, written prior to the ASI researches, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma writes, "Ayodhya seems to have emerged as a place of religious pilgrimage in medieval times. Although chapter 85 of the Vishnu Smriti lists as many as fifty-two places of pilgrimage, including towns, lakes, rivers, mountains, etc., it does not include Ayodhya in this list. Sharma also notes that Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramcharitmanas in 1574 at Ayodhya, does not mention it as a place of pilgrimage. This suggests that there was no significant Hindu temple at the site of the Babri Mosque., or that it had ceased to be one, after the mosque was built. After the demolition of the mosque in 1992, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma along with historians Suraj Bhan, M.Athar Ali and Dwijendra Narayan Jha wrote the Historian's report to the nation saying that the assumption that there was a temple at the disputed site was mistaken, and no valid reason to destroy the mosque. The 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement came down heavily on these "eminent" historians, with one of the judges remarking that he was "surprised to see in the zeal of helping… the parties in whose favour they were appearing, these witnesses went ahead… and wrote a totally new story".
Title cases 
In 1950, Gopal Singh Visharad filed a title suit with the Allahabad High Court seeking injunction to offer 'puja' (worship) at the disputed site. A similar suit was filed shortly after but later withdrawn by Paramhans Das of Ayodhya.Das, Anil (28 September 2010). "Chronolgy of Ayodhya's Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit issue". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2010. In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious institution, filed a third title suit seeking direction to hand over the charge of the disputed site, claiming to be its custodian. A fourth suit was filed by the Muslim Central Board of Wakf for declaration and possession of the site. The Allahabad high court bench began hearing the case in 2002, which was completed in 2010. However, the bench withheld its verdict till 24 September. After the Supreme Court dismissed a plea to defer the high court verdict, the high court set 30 September 2010 as the final date for pronouncing the judgement.
On 30 September 2010, the High Court of Allahabad, the three-member bench comprising justices SU Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and DV Sharma, ruled that the disputed land be split into three parts. The site of the Ramlala idol would go to the party representing Ram Lalla Virajman (the installed Infant Ram deity), Nirmohi Akhara to get Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, and the Sunni Wakf Board to get the rest. The court also ruled that status quo was to be maintained for three months.
Reacting to the verdict, all the three parties, including the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf board announced that they will appeal against the division of disputed land among three parties in the Supreme Court of India. All the three parties, however, conceded that this judgment was an important step forward, towards resolution of a long pending dispute.
Hindu Nationalism 
The Ayodhya debate has grown along with a revival of Hindu Nationalism.
The issue of the disputed structure had remained inactive for four decades, until the mid-1980s. The Hindu Nationalist movement pressed for reclamation of three of its most holy sites which it claimed had suffered at the hands of Islam, at Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi. L K Advani, the leader of the BJP in his memoirs argued, "If Muslims are entitled to an Islamic atmosphere in Mecca, and if Christians are entitled to a Christian atmosphere in the Vatican, why is it wrong for the Hindus to expect a Hindu atmosphere in Ayodhya?"
The legal case continues regarding the title deed of the land tract which is a government controlled property. While the Muslim parties want the Babri Mosque to be reconstructed through a court order, the Hindu side wants a law in parliament to have a temple constructed, saying faith in the existence of Ram Janmabhoomi cannot be decided in a court of law.
|1527||During the reign of Babur, a mughal emperor, demolished an old Hindu Temple, constructed a mosque at the same place in Ayodhya and named after him.|
|1853||The first recorded communal clashes over the site date back to this year.|
|1859||The colonial British administration put a fence around the site, denominating separate areas of worship for Hindus and Muslims. And that is the way it stood for about 90 years.|
|1949||In December of that year, idols were put inside the mosque. Both sides to the dispute filed civil suits. The government locked the gates, saying the matter was sub judice and declared the area “disputed”.|
|1961||Case filed in Indian courts against forceful occupation of the Babri Mosque and placing of idols within it.|
|1984||The movement to build a temple at the site, which Hindus claimed was the birthplace of Lord Ram, gathered momentum when Hindu groups formed a committee to spearhead the construction of a temple at the Ramjanmabhoomi site.|
|1986||A district judge ordered the gates of the mosque to be opened after almost five decades and allowed Hindus to worship inside the “disputed structure.” A Babri Mosque Action Committee was formed as Muslims protested the move to allow Hindu prayers at the site.|
|1989||The clamour for building a Ram temple was growing. Fronted by organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, foundations of a temple were laid on land adjacent to the "disputed structure."|
|1990||The then BJP president Lal Krishna Advani took out a cross-country rathyatra to garner support for the move to build a Ram temple at the site. VHP volunteers partially failed. Many were gunned down by the police on orders of the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, when they gathered in Ayodhya as participants of the Rath-Yatra and their bodies were thrown in the river Saryu.|
|1991||Riding high on the success of Advani's rathyatra, and annoyance at the previous regime's killings of the Kar Sevaks, the BJP became India's primary opposition party in Parliament and came to power in Uttar Pradesh.|
|1991||The movement for building a temple gathered further momentum with Karsevaks or Hindu volunteers pouring into Ayodhya. Bricks were sent from across India.|
|1992||6 December||The Babri Mosque was demolished by Karsevaks. Communal riots across India followed.|
|1992||16 December||Ten days after the demolition, the Congress government at the Centre, headed by PV Narasimha Rao, set up a commission of inquiry under Justice Liberhan.|
|1993||Three months after being constituted, the Liberhan Commission began investigations into who and what led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque.|
|2001||Tensions rose on the anniversary of the demolition of the mosque as the VHP reaffirmed its resolve to build a temple at the site.|
|2002||27 February||At least 58 people were killed in Godhra, Gujarat, in an attack on a train believed to be carrying Hindu volunteers from Ayodhya. Riots followed in the state and over 2000 people were unofficially reported to have died in these.|
|2003||The court ordered a survey to find out whether a temple to Lord Ram existed on the site. In August, the survey presented evidence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim groups disputed the findings.|
|2003||September||A court ruled that seven Hindu leaders, including some prominent BJP leaders, should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque.|
|2004||November||An Uttar Pradesh court ruled that an earlier order which exonerated LK Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.|
|2007||The Supreme Court refused to admit a review petition on the Ayodhya dispute.|
|2009||The Liberhan Commission, which was instituted ten days after the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992, submitted its report on 30 June – almost 17 years after it began its inquiry. Its contents were not made public.|
|2010||30 September||The Allahabad High Court pronounces its verdict on four title suits relating to the Ayodhya dispute on 30 September 2010. Ayodhya land to be divided into 3 parts. 1/3 goes to Ram Lalla represented by Hindu Maha Sabha, 1/3 to Sunni Wakf Board, 1/3 goes to Nirmohi Akhara.|
|2010||December||The Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha and Sunni Waqf Board moved to the Supreme Court of India, challenging part of the Allahabad High Court’s verdict.|
|2011||9 May||Supreme Court of India stayed the High court order splitting the disputed site in 3 parts and said that status quo will remain. The two judge bench of Supreme Court also remarked that the HC verdict was surprising as no party wanted a split of the site.|
See also 
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- Babri mosque demolition case hearing today Yahoo News – 18 September 2007
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- "Babri Masjid demolition was planned 10 months in advance – PTI". Newindpress.com. Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- "Article – Untitled Article". Archive.guardian.co.uk. 8 December 1992. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- "Timeline: Ayodhya holy site crisis". BBC News. 30 September 2010.
- Nelson, Dean (29 September 2010). "India braced for violence ahead of Muslim v Hindu Ayodhya verdict". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
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- Sharma, Dharam Veer, Ram JanmBhoomi Babri Masjid Judgement – Annexure IV – Page 129 to 162, pp. 129–162, retrieved 15 April 2011
- P. Carnegy: A Historical Sketch of Tehsil Fyzabad, Lucknow 1870, cited by Harsh Narain The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, 1993, New Delhi, Penman Publications. ISBN 81-85504-16-4 p.8-9, and by Peter Van der Veer Religious Nationalism, p.153
- The Truth of Babri Mosque. IUniverse.com. 2012. p. 184. ISBN 1475942893.
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Further reading 
- Online court verdict is available from the official website of india's Allahabad High Court from 30 September 2010 Allahabad High Court's eLegalix portal
- tiya. "Let's appeal for Peace on Ayodhya Verdict Day Appeal for Peace and Calm on Ayodhya Verdict Day". Breakingnewsonline.net. Archived from the original on 2 October 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
- "Ayodhya Dispute History | Ram Janmabhoomi Temple | Babri Masjid | Land Suit | Hindus-Muslims – Oneindia News". News.oneindia.in. 23 September 2010. Archived from the original on 25 September 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
- Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, by Ram Sharan Sharma, People's Publishing House (PPH), 2nd Revised Edition, September 1999, Delhi. Translated into Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Two versions in Bengali.
- Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor. 1996. Edited, translated and annotated by Wheeler M. Thacktson. New York and London: Oxford University Press.
- Ayodhya and the Future of India. 1993. Edited by Jitendra Bajaj. Madras: Centre for Policy Studies.
- Elst, Koenraad, Ayodhya: The Case Against the Temple (2002) ISBN 81-85990-75-1
- Emmanuel, Dominic. "The Mumbai bomb blasts and the Ayodhya tangle", National Catholic Reporter (Kansas City, 27 August 2003).
- Harsh Narain. 1993. The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources. Delhi: Penman Publishers.
- Hassner, Ron E., War on Sacred Grounds. 2009. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- R. Nath. Babari Masjid of Ayodhya, Jaipur 1991.
- A. Nandy, S. Trivedy, S. Mayaram, Achyut Yagnik Creating a Nationality: The Ramjanmabhumi Movement and Fear of the Self, Oxford University Press, USA (1998), ISBN 0-19-564271-6.
- Rajaram, N.S. (2000). Profiles in Deception: Ayodhya and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New Delhi: Voice of India
- Thakur Prasad Varma and Swarajya Prakash Gupta: Ayodhya ka Itihas evam Puratattva— Rigveda kal se ab tak ("History and Archaeology of Ayodhya— From the Time of the Rigveda to the Present"). Bharatiya Itihasa evam Samskrit Parishad and DK Printworld. New Delhi.
- Thapar, Romila. A Historical Perspective on the Story of Rama in Thapar (2000).
- Thapar, Romila. Cultural Pasts: Essays in Early Indian History (New Delhi: Oxford University, 2000) ISBN 0-19-564050-0.
- Nirmohi Akhara ready for out-of-court settlement – TCN News
- Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid – Ayodhya Bench: Gist of Judgments at Allahabad High Court
- Excerpts from Baburnama citing origin of name of Babri Masjid